Wondering what the best day or multi-day trips are from Hanoi? There are a number of captivating destinations which are easily accessible from the Vietnamese capitol. From the rice paddies of Mai Chau and Sapa to the extreme motorbike loop that is Ha Giang to an epic sail along Ha Long Bay, no matter which places you decide to visit from Hanoi you will be blown away by the incredible scenery Northern Vietnam is famous for. There are many destinations to visit from Hanoi and each have its own unique beauty to discover.
So enjoy this quick guide to the top destinations to visit from Hanoi:
Mai Chau & Pu Luong National Park
Travel Time From Hanoi: 3+ hours
Imagine observing Northern Vietnamese rice farmers dotted along a scenery which almost looks too beautiful to be real. If meandering along idyllic rice paddy views and the opportunity to enjoy quiet, authentic moments amongst the locals appeals to you, a trekking tour of Mai Chau and/or Pu Luong National Park is the perfect destination for you to visit from Hanoi. The region is about a 3.5 hour drive from Hanoi.
Since Mai Chau is a much less popular destination than the world-famous Sapa, tourists have the opportunity to indulge in a much more “authentic-feeling” experience, and depending on where you stay, you may even be one of the only tourists in the area.
which, for better or worse, is likely to change soon as the tourism infrastructure grows rapidly there. My advice? Book your trip to Mai Chau before it actually becomes the next Sapa.
Whether you choose to book a multi-day tour (recommended if you’d like to do a guided trek) or book your own homestays and motorbike around the region yourself, you will likely be sleeping in stilted houses amongst the rice paddies, eating delicious family-style meals and even doing rice wine shots with the locals. And did I mention the views? Travelers can easily book a trip from various travel agencies or hotels/hostels in the Old Quarter. Don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deal or a tour that suits you best.
2. Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba Island
Travel Time From Hanoi: 3+ hours
As a UNESCO Heritage Site featuring thousands of limestone karsts jutting endlessly from the sea, it’s easy to see why Ha Long Bay is a top tourist destination from Hanoi. Travelers can book a number of different of cruise tours to fit their travel style and budget, from cruises geared towards the younger backpacker crowd (Castaways) to luxurious cruise liners with gourmet meals onboard. To get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, one takes a 2.5hr bus ride to the port.
Also accessible from the Ha Long Port is Cat Ba Island, which is often the final stop on a Ha Long Bay cruise tour but can easily be visited in its own right via a frequently running ferry. The island features a nature preserve where one can bike along or camp in. It also features some hostels and a small town area which in and of itself is not notable, but Cat Ba National Park is worth a visit. I recommend staying in a homestay and renting out bicycles to cycle around the national park.
3. The Ha Giang Loop
Travel Time From Hanoi: 5-6hrs
The Ha Giang Loop is my absolute favorite trip to take from Hanoi, but it’s not for the weak of heart! I have already written an entire article on The Ha Giang Loop, which you can access here, but I’ll give a quick summary. Ha Giang is a province in the northernmost part of Vietnam, about a 5-6 hour bus ride from Hanoi. It’s famous amongst travelers for the Ha Giang Loop, a motorbike loop which starts in the city of Ha Giang and features stunning cliff views, rugged roads, ethnic minority villages and the incredibly scenic Ma Pi Leng Pass. Travelers spend their days motorbiking along the loop and their evenings in various homestays and hostels dotted throughout the route.
4. Ninh Binh
Travel Time From Hanoi: 2hrs
Ninh Binh is a province south of Hanoi featuring beautiful limestone cliffs amongst rice fields which has often driven compares to Ha Long Bay on land. A popular tourist destination for travelers and Vietnamese alike, Ninh Binh has a lot to offer. Popular attractions include catching a boat ride in Trang An, “hiking” up the hundreds of steps of Hang Mua to scout the stunning views below, visiting temples and visiting Cuc Phuong National Park nearby.
There are a plethora of accommodation options in Ninh Binh, from picturesque homestays to hostels primarily located in the town of Tam Coc. I found Tam Coc to be the most vibrant spot to stay if you’re looking for a bit of a social scene and more food options.
Speaking of food options, be prepared to see goat meat stalls everywhere. Trust me, they’re hard to miss.
5. Sa Pa
Travel Time From Hanoi: 5+hr
No list of places to visit from Hanoi would be complete without Sapa. While I must admit I haven’t been, it’s such a monumental destination that it’s almost shameful I haven’t made the journey yet! The region is famous for its trekking and of course, rice paddies. I’ve been told that it’s best to stay outside of Sapa town itself and in the surrounding areas as its quite overrun with tourists directly in town.
For more information, check out this Sapa Travel Guide which I found useful.
6. Ba Vi National Park
Travel Time From Hanoi: 1.5hr
For an easy day trip away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park is another option. Ba Vi National Park is only a little over an hour west of Hanoi city and features fresher air, lush greenery and a variety of accommodation choice from camping to homestays to luxury resorts like Melia. While it isn’t the most notable or exciting of destinations from Hanoi, if you’re looking for a quick city escape that won’t keep you on a bus for hours at a time, Ba Vi is a worthy choice.
7. Duong Lam Ancient Village
Travel Time From Hanoi: 1hr
A quick trip worthy of a half day from Hanoi is Duong Lam Ancient Village, a typical old village in Bac Bo area featuring Mong Phu Temple. It’s also a quick stop on the way to Ba Vi National Park, so the two trips could be made into one. There isn’t an incredible amount of see there, but if you really don’t have much time to explore outside of Hanoi it’s worth it to get out of the city and see a more simple lifestyle in an ancient village in northern Vietnam.